I started practicing yoga in 2000 when I was 26, not long after moving to Milton Keynes. Like many people, my first ever taste of yoga was at a gym class on a Sunday morning. As I work in IT, and much of this time is spent at a desk with a computer, somehow I had gotten the idea that yoga might improve my flexibility and balance and be generally ‘good for me’. I managed to go to this yoga class pretty regularly each week and, as the months passed, I started to feel changes in me. I could now touch the floor! I also started to notice changes in how I thought about things: everyday challenges, relationships, my work, my health.
Two years after I went to that first class, I read a book by Liz Lark that described a number of different methods or systems of yoga and it inspired me to explore wider than just the gym. This led to me attending a six-week beginners course in the Ashtanga Yoga method in 2003. This had a huge impact on me. I felt so uplifted after that first practice. Ashtanga Yoga is a system of yoga where movements and postures are linked with each breath following a prescribed sequence in a way that fosters a deep self-awareness. Externally, Ashtanga Yoga can appear to be a very physical discipline but it has many more subtle layers. I started to do Ashtanga Yoga classes with a number of different teachers, to attend workshops, and to develop my own self practice. During this time I met Brigitte Rooney, a yoga teacher local to me in Milton Keynes, who has had a huge influence on my journey. Brigitte is a kind and gifted teacher who sees the highest potential in her students.
In 2009 a moment of serendipity occurred. I saw a posting online for the opening day of Stillpoint Yoga London, founded by Scott Johnson and Ozge Karabiyik, who would be teaching Ashtanga Yoga in the early mornings ‘Mysore style’. This was right by my work in London so I rolled my mat out on ‘day one’ at Stillpoint and my life pivoted. Together, Scott and Oz fundamentally shifted my perception of what it means to practice yoga, and changed who I am. I still practice at Stillpoint whenever I can and every time it feels like I have come home.
You could say the first yoga class I ever ‘taught’ was in fact the original Sunday gym class where I first started yoga. One day the teacher just didn’t show up. After ten minutes, rather than just go home, I decided I was going to do my Ashtanga Yoga self-practice and asked if anyone would like to join in with me. John Scott uses the simple phrase “teach what you know”, and so I shared the first part of the Ashtanga Yoga sequence of postures with that class that Sunday morning. From there, with the support of Brigitte, and later also Scott and Oz, I started to teach occasionally in Milton Keynes as ‘cover’. This, in turn, led to me doing my formal yoga teacher training and to my own regular Ashtanga Yoga classes starting at Whitespace Yoga and Wellbeing Studio in 2011.
I have been fortunate enough to learn from some amazing teachers, who all have my gratitude. I have completed the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga teacher training with John Scott, in the lineage of Sri K Pattabi Jois, and the ‘Relax and Renew®’ Restorative Yoga Level One teacher training with Judith Hanson Lasater. I am a registered RYT 200 teacher with Yoga Alliance UK. This accreditation demonstrates excellent standards as set by Yoga Alliance UK. I am also a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance.
My approach to teaching Ashtanga Yoga follows the traditional ‘Mysore style’ including self practice, counted vinyasa, hands-on adjustments and technique work. I feel the role of the teacher is to be there for each student, helping and guiding as they discover their own unique and individual practice of yoga. And the real yoga happens when you step off the mat.